Regional vaccination pod soon will shift locations in East Providence, increase volume

At larger site officials say thousands more doses can be administered

By Mike Rego
Posted 4/12/21

EAST PROVIDENCE — The new East Bay regional vaccination site located in East Providence has started with modest aspirations, but should likely soon see increased levels of activity as the state …

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Regional vaccination pod soon will shift locations in East Providence, increase volume

At larger site officials say thousands more doses can be administered

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The new East Bay regional vaccination site located in East Providence has started with modest aspirations, but should likely soon see increased levels of activity as the state ramps up its attempt to finally quell the COVID-19 pandemic locally.

The first two weeks of the operation will be housed at the East Providence Senior Center, located at 610 Waterman Ave., opening each Wednesday and Friday, from 9 a.m.-3:15 p.m., and delivering some 1,200 doses each week for residents of the city, Pawtucket, Barrington, Warren, Bristol and Tiverton.

However, beginning the week of April 21, the expectation is for the site to move next door into a 30,000 square foot space in the Shoppers Town Plaza at 589 Taunton Ave., an occurrence East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva alluded to during a press briefing announcing the regional pod last week. The city has signed a lease with the owner of the building. The only delay is the need for updating electrical access necessary for the pod to be fully functional.

According to East Providence Fire Department Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director/Emergency Services Director Captain John Potvin, once the Shoppers Town site is operational, the aim will be to administer 1,200 vaccinations each Wednesday and Friday. Captain Potvin added, in actuality, the larger space could afford personnel from each of the six participating municipalities to deliver more than double the current number of doses per day if there is enough supply.

“We’re ready to handle as many as 3,000 doses per day if need be,” Capt. Potvin reiterated. “We’re prepared to do that and if we get that many vaccinations, we can do it.”

Through the week of April 15, however, the goal is to inoculate 600 people per Wednesday and Friday at the Senior Center location. There has been a slight change in the brands of vaccines being provided. The pod remains on a schedule of the two-shot Pfizer doses on Wednesdays. However, instead of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson dose on Friday as has been the case in recent weeks, that too has been changed to Pfizer for April 16 and 23 at least. Capt. Potvin said J&J’s ability to distribute the vaccine has been hampered in recent weeks due to potential contamination issues with its supplier in Maryland. The turnaround time for scheduling the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is 21 days or three weeks.

Also at the moment, Capt. Potvin said the pod is scheduling appointments at five-minute intervals. During the first day of operations on Wednesday, April 7, he said the time from when a person entered into the vaccination area until the shot was administered was just two minutes.

One vaccinator, he continued, is able to give 12 shots an hour. Recipients still must remain in the pod for 15 minutes after being inoculated for observation and those who are receiving the two-shot variety must also set up a second appointment during that time.

Personnel and supplies are being pooled between the six jurisdictions. From East Providence, specifically, Capt. Potvin said a cadre of approximately 30 firefighters have been administering the vaccinations on a rotating basis.

Appointments will be set up by the state, through the Rhode Island Department of Health portal, www.vaccinateRI.org. The number of available vaccinations each day will be announced at 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning and 5 p.m. on Thursday evenings. In East Providence, those residents there without internet access can call the city’s hotline at 533-9812 for assistance.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.